Witnessed community and parental violence in relation to substance use and delinquency in a national sample of adolescents

Authors

  • Heidi M. Zinzow,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC and National Crime Victims Research, and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
    • 418 Brackett Hall, Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634
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  • Kenneth J. Ruggiero,

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC and Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, SC
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  • Rochelle F. Hanson,

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • Daniel W. Smith,

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • Benjamin E. Saunders,

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • Dean G. Kilpatrick

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant 1R01 HD046830-01 (principal investigator: Dean G. Kilpatrick). Views in this article do not necessarily represent those of the agency supporting this research.

Abstract

This study examined whether witnessed community and parental violence represented risk factors for substance use and delinquency among adolescents, beyond the contribution of direct violence and other risk factors. We also examined the role of violence characteristics. Participants were a national sample of 3,614 adolescents. Structured telephone interviews assessed demographics, trauma history, witnessed violence, delinquency, and substance use. While accounting for trauma history and other risk factors, witnessed community and parental violence were associated with delinquency. Community violence was associated with substance use. Chronic violence, knowing the perpetrator, and violence outside of school were correlated with substance use and delinquency among adolescents who witnessed community violence. These findings highlight the importance of targeting witnessed violence in prevention and intervention efforts.

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